Game developer and frequent Gamergate target Brianna Wu says she fears for her safety due to a bizarre and threatening YouTube video posted by a Massachusetts man this weekend. The man has posted several videos accusing Wu of trying to assassinate him; the newest video shows him standing next to his wrecked car, which he says he crashed on his way to "confront" her.
The man posts on YouTube under the name "ParkourDude91," and has said in several videos and on Twitter that his name is Jace Connors. Connors is somewhat infamous online: He's claimed for years to be, variously, a former U.S. Marine or, in his Twitter bio, a former Navy SEAL. He's also said that he lives with his mother and posts frequently about video games. In the past he referred to himself as a juggalo (an Insane Clown Posse Fan), but these days says he's a Gamergate supporter. There's a cruel and mocking entry on the "parody" site Encyclopedia Dramatica about Connors, detailing his long history of strange claims and his fondness for appearing in his YouTube videos brandishing a knife featuring the Marines' "Semper Fi" motto and, occasionally, an Airsoft (replica) gun styled to look like a Desert Eagle pistol. Another video posted online shows Connors and a friend apparently beating up and threatening a third man with an Airsoft gun to get him to "pay" for an XBox they accuse him of stealing.
Connors has denied on Twitter that he suffers from mental illness, but has also written that he has a "past history" of schizophrenia, for which he says he takes medication. His YouTube videos show someone with a number of paranoid and delusional beliefs about various conspiracies against him. In recent months, Connors seems to have become fixated on Brianna Wu. Here is the video he posted Friday, titled "Brianna Wu tried to assassinate me street racing."
In the start of the video, Connors is standing in the snow next to what he says is his mother's wrecked Prius. He's yelling almost unintelligibly: "I wasn't even fucking drunk, I was just street racing, I was just street racing." He dissolves into screams as he kicks the wrecked car. The video then fades into a black screen with white text, where Connors accuses Wu of masterminding the accident: "I suspect Brianna Wu rigged my mom's Prius to crash and/or kill me to silence me from being a #GamerGate Vigilante... The crash happened today while I was driving to Wu's house (in order to expose her as a corrupt gamer by racing her on camera)."
Wu says she's alarmed by Connors' threats and his expressed desire to come to her house to "confront" her. Both of them live near Boston. After someone sent her the latest video, she posted a series of tweets begging police to arrest him and pointing out it's not the first time he's expressed a desire to punish her for what he calls "treachery."
In a message to Jezebel, Wu says that she's been concerned about Connors for months (she avoids using his real name). She writes:
In late December, a video was sent to me of a man brandishing a knife and ranting that he was going to stab me with it "Assassin's Creed"-style. He identified himself as "The Commander," and a Gamergater. To not reveal his real name, I will refer to him as The Commander for the rest of this piece. I've had 43 death threats sent to me in the last four months, but this one seemed serious enough for me to call the cops and immediately file a report.
The Commander's face was fully visible and he regularly tweets using his real name, so it was easy for an acquaintance of mine to find his address. This was passed to me, and I sent it on to law enforcement. Even supporters of Gamergate, uneasy with his threats of violence, contacted me with personal testimony about experiences with him, which I also forwarded.
I thought the response from law enforcement would be quick, but to my knowledge nothing was done. As I waited, I continued to get death threats sent by this man, some telling me he was going to fire guns at me. He bragged about his military experience as a sniper, and described many of the Iraqis he had killed.
On Friday, I was contacted by a friend extremely worried for my safety. A Skype log from The Commander threatening me with the knife had leaked onto the Internet. He was en route to my house with what was described as a rifle. I was contacted by the Boston police who had received calls from other people who had read this man's disturbing Skype log.
Wu says she contacted the Arlington, Massachusetts police department, who took a statement from her. Later that night, she says, "the Commander" sent her his newest video. Terrified, she called the police again and had them come back to her house to take a second report. She adds:
I have never contacted The Commander. I have never interacted with The Commander. I have never heard of the Commander before his repeated threats of violence against me.
I have to be honest. I'm not sure what needs to happen here. The Commander is clearly mentally ill, and I'm not sure if he'd be better helped through jail time or through time with mental health professionals. But, it's clear he's a danger to himself and others currently. It's my hope in speaking out that law enforcement will get involved and get this man the help he needs.
This weekend, two popular Gamergate podcasters who go by the names The Ralph Retort and Kingofpol posted a video interview with Connors. Clad in sunglasses, a camouflage jacket, and a yellow polka-dotted tie, he seemed much calmer, but still said that he believes Wu is trying to assassinate him. (He also said he is "definitely a Gamergate supporter.")
Connors said that on Friday, he'd gotten a text message that he believed at the time was from Wu, and said he was racing to confront her and maybe race her when he wrecked his car. He suggested that she had positioned a sniper to cause the accident. He also admitted that he'd previously believed that Moot — also known as Christopher Poole, the founder of 4chan — was working with "Islamic assassins" to try to kill him. When the hosts laughed at that, he grew angry, telling them, "There's nothing funny about that. My life was on the line. The evidence is real." (Correction: A previous version of this post stated that Connors accused Wu of siccing the "Islamic assassins" on him. That was incorrect and it appears corrected above. I regret the error.)
After the crash, Connors told the hosts, he refused to go to the hospital: "I was convinced — and still partially am — that there was an attempt being made on my life, and did not want to be stuck in a hospital." He said, too, that he hasn't been questioned by police regarding the statements he's made about Wu, much less arrested: "I've seen Law and Order, they have to come to your house and give you a thing."
Connors denied ever owning a real gun, saying the weapons he's frequently holding in his YouTube videos are all replicas: "I never had a gun. I never said I had a gun. I'm not even allowed to hold a gun in Massachussetts. It's not even legal for me... the only guns I've ever had in videos were all Airsoft replicas."
He also said that he doesn't plan to end the "Wupocalypse," as he calls it: "If you think I'm the type of person to let anything go, you don't know me. It's not just ongoing, it's just beginning... The long-term exposé of the social justice community that I have planned is just beginning. Brianna Wu is just a small part of it." He added, a few minutes later "I will try as much as I can to bring this gaming criminal to justice. I still believe Brianna Wu is responsible for the car crash."
We've left messages with the Massachusetts State Police and are working to get in touch with the Arlington Police Department. We'll update when we hear back.
Screenshot via YouTube